Bars, Bundts, and Hotdish: Classic Minnesota Recipes

I am starting a new special feature for my blog featuring Minnesota recipes.  I want to collect some Minnesota family recipes.  Do you have a favorite hotdish from when you were a kid? A classic recipe that shows up at all family get-togethers? Please send me the recipe, and I would love to feature it on my blog.  Email me at or  Also, expect another instalment of weird recipes from yesteryear this week!

Meyer Lemon and Blackberry Layer Cake

I do not often make layer cakes, but the other day I was watching Master Chef (you can judge me, I know it is a terrible show), and they were challenged to make one.   Watching all those cakes made me want to eat one, which meant I had to make one.  So I looked through a few cook books and came across one from Dorie Greenspan that I had always wanted to eat.  This cake isn’t exactly that cake but it is based on it.  It is very good, but there is one warning.  The frosting base is a meringue, so if you do not like meringue all that much, this cake probably is not for you.  Or you could replace the frosting with a normal butter cream too.

The cake:

2 1/2 cups cake flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups whole milk or buttermilk (I used whole milk because that is what I had on hand.  I actually think I would have preferred buttermilk.)

4 large egg whites

1 1/2 cups sugar

zest of one Meyer lemon

1 stick butter, room temp.

juice of the Meyer lemon

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together; set aside.  Whisk the milk and egg whites together; set aside.

Put the sugar and the lemon zest in a bowl, and rub it together until the sugar is nice and fragrant.  Add the butter and beat until the mixture is very light.  Beat in the lemon juice.  Then add in 1/3 of the flour mixture, then 1/2 of the milk mixture.  Continue in this fashion, back and forth, until everything is incorporated.  Once everything has mixed together well, divide the batter into two well-greased 9″ round cake pans.  Bake for 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees.  Once the cake is done, remove from oven and place the pans on cooling racks.  After about 15 minutes take the cakes out of the pans to let them cool completely.

The frosting:

1 cup sugar

4 large egg whites

3 sticks of butter at room temp.

1/4 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Put the sugar and eggs together in a double boiler over medium-high heat.  Whisk constantly as the mixture is heating.  It should take about 3-5 minutes to get the mixture to look white, fluffy, and shiny (a little like marshmallow cream actually). Pull the mixture into an electric mixer.  Beat on medium speed for about 5 minutes–the mixture should now be cooled down.  Add the butter, one stick at a time until completely incorporated.  Turn up the mixer to medium-high and beat for 6-10 minutes, until the mixture is very light and fluffy.  Add in the juice and the extract, beat until incorporated.

The blackberry layer: 

This is the easier part by far.  Warm about 1/2-2/3 cup blackberry preserves until easily spreadable.  That is it.  You could use any preserves really.  I used seedless preserves for this cake.


Once the cake layers have cooled, use a sharp knife and slice in half horizontally–you will end up with 4 cake rounds at this point. Obviously you need a sharp and long  knife, but it is easier to do than I expected.  Now you will start the layering process.  Lay the first cake round down on a cake stand or plate.  Spread a thin layer of the preserves on it.  Then spread the frosting over the preserves.  Try to keep the layers from mixing together here.

Once the frosting is spread, add the next cake layer and repeat with the preserves and the frosting. Do this with the bottom three cake layers.

Place the forth layer on top; now it is time to cover the entire cake with the remainder of the frosting.

Now it is ready to cut and enjoy.

I topped the cake with a few raspberries from the yard.  It would be great with some actual blackberries too.

Rhubarb-Rosemary Frozen Yogurt

Some of you may have noticed that I haven’t posted for about a week or so.  Well that is because Lucy started to crawl, and then started pulling herself up.  I have been a little overwhelmed with how to keep her safe.  She can sniff out danger anywhere and crawls towards it as fast as she can.

Above is a perfect example.  It took her about 30 seconds to figure out how to pull the electrical plug safety things out.  Great.  I will be buying a different brand of those.

Needless to say, cooking and blogging hasn’t been my top priority.  I did make some frozen yogurt the other day that was quite good though.  I know rhubarb and rosemary sounds a little weird, but it works really well together.


2 cups rhubarb, cut

1 cup cugar

2 sprigs of rosemary

2 cups yogurt

1 cup whole milk

To make the rhubarb syrup:

Put the rhubarb, rosemary, sugar, and 1/4 cup water in a sauce pan over medium-high heat.  Cook stirring occasionally until the rhubarb are falling apart and the liquid is thickened.  Drain through a fine sieve.   The liquid will be a beautiful pink color.

Once the liquid has cooled a little, add in the yogurt and milk.  At this point follow the instructions for your own ice cream maker.

I didn’t get a very good picture of the frozen yogurt, so you are just going to have to take my word for it that it turned out.  Since it is really hot this week, I will probably be making more ice cream recipes.

Pies, Pies, Pies

For father’s day, I decided to make pies for my dad and Alec’s dad–both dads being fans of fruit pies.  For my father I made a strawberry, blackberry, and raspberry pie, and for my father-in-law I made a strawberry, blueberry, and raspberry pie.  I love berry pies, and these turned out great.  There was very little liquid after the pie was baked, and it held together nicely.  I believe this recipe, which I what I did for the blueberry pie a couple of weeks ago, would work for any berry pie.  I have been meaning to make a strawberry-rhubarb pie in this manner too–I will let you know how that turns out when I finally get around to it.

Triple Berry Pie

2 pints or so of berries

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup flour

juice of 1/2 lemon

zest of one half lemon

Mix together and let it sit for about 15 minutes.  Put the mixture into your prepared (rolled but not baked) crust.  Seal the crusts together and paint with an egg/water wash.  Bake for 30 minutes at 425; lower the heat to 375 and bake another 30 minutes.  Cover with foil if it is browning to quickly.


Lucy started crawling this last week, which is very excited and also a little scary.  Immediately after she started crawling she started pulling herself up.  Here is a picture of her standing with just a little help.

She is getting so big!

I made a handbag

I don’t think I have sewn anything for at least ten years.  Though apparently sewing is like riding a bike–you can always do it once you figure out how to actually get your sewing machine to work again (thanks Mom!). I got a fun new book that had tons of things you can make with one yard of fabric.  I thought this would be a good place to start with my new hobby.  For my first project I made a handbag, and it actually turned out!!! See below…

Here is a pic where you can see how big it is, though I don’t look too great…

Finally I have been obsessed with this button that I ended up putting on thepurse instead of doing a snap…

I had a blast making it, so I am sure there will be plenty of more sewing projects to come.  I think I am going to try a stuffed animal next.

We’re going to Party like it is 1958…

It all started when my mom gave me a book from 1958 about cooking and entertaining.  I figured this would be the perfect party.  I spent about a month looking at old recipes.  I sent out invitations.  I got myself a 50s housewife dress.  And last Saturday, I threw a pretty fun 50s party.  I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that everyone dressed up, and everyone seemed to have a  good time.

Now I believe that if you are going to go to the bother to throw a party, you should be able to enjoy it.  That is what I kept in mind while planning.  I was able to make all the food ahead of time.  Most of it was done the day before, in fact.  Instead of bar-tending all night, I made pitchers of drinks, and let people pour them for themselves.

The Menu:

I had a buffet style sampling of appetizers and desserts.  I made two types of Jell-o, a cherry-chocolate bundt cake, little cakes, ambrosia salad, a cheese ball, refrigerator pickles,  and spinach dip.  I made almost all of this on Friday morning.  Food in the 50s was easy! Packaged things, processed things, convenience food galore–I have never put such little effort into making food for a party before.

Cheese Ball: 

1 small tub of Merk Cheese

1 8-ounce package of cream cheese

a little blue cheese

a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce

Throw it all together and mix together.  Wrap in plastic wrap and form into a ball.  Put in the fridge overnight.  Before serving roll in parsley or chopped nuts.

Easiest Chocolate-cherry Bundt Cake Ever

1 devil’s food chocolate cake mix

1/4 cup vegetable oil

3 eggs

1/2 cup water

1 can cherry pie filling

1 cup chocolate chips

Mix it all together and put it in a bundt pan pre-sprayed with Baker’s Joy.  Bake for about 45-50 minutes.  Leave it cook in the pan for about 15 minutes then slide it out and let it cool completely.  Top with chocolate frosting.

Ambrosia Salad

1 package of marshmallows

1 tub of cool whip

1 can pineapple chunks, drained

1 can mandarin oranges, drained

1 cup coconut

Mix it all together.  That is it.  It is actually that easy.

The Drinks:

For ease, I wanted just one or two drinks at the party.  I decided on a Mojito and an Old Fashioned because they were both around in the 50s and they are both delicious.  According to Wikipedia (so it is probably right), the Old Fashioned was the favorite drink of President Truman, and the Mojito was the favorite drink of Hemingway.


1 2/3 oz white run

1 teaspoon sugar

2/3 ox lime juice

bunch of fresh mint

sparkling water

Put the sugar and the lime juice together in the bottom of a high ball glass.  Throw the mint in and muddle together.  Add the rum, ice, and sparkling water.  Serve with a slice of lime.

Old Fashioned

1 2/3 oz bourbon

dash of Angostura bitters

1 sugar cube

club soda

oranges and maraschino cherry

Place the sugar cube in an old-fashioned class and soak with the bitters.  Add some orange slices and muddle together.  Add the bourbon, ice, and cover with soda.  You can also use Sprite for a sweet Old Fashioned (serve with a maraschino cherry) or Squirt or 50/50 for a Sour Old Fashioned (serve with an olive).  If you are from Wisconsin, you can make these with brandy instead of bourbon.  Both liquors are quite good.  I like all varieties of Old Fashioneds.

The People:

Everyone came looking fantastic.  I didn’t get a ton of pictures, but here a few.

Here we are looking like a nice happy 50s family.

Our friend Joe came up from Madison for the party.  He helped me out a ton preparing for the party.  Plus he spent a couple of hours putting together a great 50s playlist.

I think Kelsey (my friend and former roommate) took the cake for the best outfit.  The baby she is holding is not hers though.  The adorable little baby Nina belongs to our friends Ann and Antonio.

Joe and Antonio showed up in the same hat…

Kara and Caleb–he is sporting a bow tie and she is wearing metallic gloves–pretty awesome.

Kim and Josh–my cousins-in-laws (is that a thing?).  Kim had the cutest hat!

Here is my friend Katie all decked out with broaches.

Here is Elle holding little Milo (Milo is not her baby.  He belongs to our friends Ray and Angie).

It was an absolute beautiful night, and we enjoyed some time outdoors.

Thank you so much to everyone who came.  I feel really bad I didn’t get pictures of everyone because everyone looked great! Next time I will be more on top of pictures!


Smoky Potato Salad

Well it is about a million degrees here in Minneapolis today.  The air conditioning is on and all of our blinds are closed to keep out the sun.  I officially decided I wasn’t going to do much of value today because it is just too hot.  For dinner tonight we are making BLTs, which should be nice and  cool besides the part where I have to cook the bacon.  The other day I made up a potato salad I am doing again today.  It is nothing all that new and exciting, but it uses some awesome mustard the cheese lady at Haskell’s talked us into buying. See picture below…

It was a little pricey for mustard in my opinion (about $7), but it really is good.  It has a nice smoky flavor, thus the name.  If you are so inclined to make this recipe exactly how I have it, here is a link where you can purchase this lovely mustard–that is if you aren’t lucky enough to live near a Haskells!’s+Smoky+Mustard

Smoky Potato Salad

1/2 pound of red potatoes boiled and cubed

2 hard boiled eggs, chopped

1/2 medium onion or a few green onions (I used white onions the first time and green the second, both good)

1-2 stalks celery

Mayonnaise (I use the Hellman’s Olive Oil kind)

The Smokey Mustard

salt and pepper to taste


Mix it all together.  I didn’t put amounts down for the mustard and mayo for a couple of reasons.  1) I don’t measure 2) It is kinda a personal preference thing I feel.  If I were to estimate I would say about 3/4 cup mayo to about 1/4 mustard? But that is obviously pretty flexible.

Blueberry Pie

After about a month of not posting too much, I am back.  I finished up the most difficult quarter of school I have ever had.  Yesterday I graduated, though I still have a couple of things left to do until I actually get my diploma in the mail. I am feeling pretty good.  I will be back posting regularly now, so get ready for some fun new recipes and such.

Yesterday after my graduation, my parents hosted a lovely dinner for me, my family, and my in-laws.  It was delicious.  I made a blueberry pie to bring down and below is the recipe.  The filling is from Dorie Greenspan, with a couple small adjustments.  I used my basic pie crust because I like butter crusts much better than shortening crusts, which was what she suggested.  I don’t think I had ever had a homemade blueberry pie before.  They are so much better than store bought ones or frozen ones.  The pie was a big hit with everyone (except my mom, but she doesn’t like blueberries–I brought down a raspberry bundt cake too, which I will probably post about later, which she liked a lot).

Blueberry Pie

Use can use any double pie dough recipe really.  I used the one that is on my basic recipes tab.  You could even use a pre-made crust if you want–this recipe would be really easy then.   Roll the dough out and keep in the fridge until ready to put the pie together.

The filling:

2 pints of blueberries, washed and make sure the stems are removed

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup

pinch of salt

lemon zest from 1/2-1 lemon

juice from 1/2 lemon

1/4 cup dry bread crumbs

Mix everything together in a bowl except for the bread crumbs and let it sit for 5-10 minutes.

Sprinkle the bread crumbs on the bottom of the pie shell. Then put the berry mixture over the bread crumbs.

Put the top crust on this.  Make a few slits in the top.

Pain the top of the pie with an egg wash.

Bake at 425 for 30 minutes.  Drop the temp to 375 and bake for another 30 minutes.  If the crust is getting too brown put a tinfoil tent over it.

Let the pie cool at least a half an hour before serving.

Strawberry Pie

It is strawberry season finally.  I bought a two pound box of them at the store and then wondered what I should do with so many berries.  We were having our friends Anna and Chris over for dinner, and I thought it might be nice to finish the meal with a strawberry pie, which I had never made before.  I looked up a bunch of recipes, but nothing struck my fancy.  I ended up taking a few ideas from some different recipes and making up my own.  I was pleased with the end product.  It is not a particularly quick pie to make, but it screams summer.

To begin:

Make and pre-bake a pie crust.  You can use my basic pie crust recipe, or use your own.  You could even use a store bought one if you want.  I used a butter/flour crust, but I think a graham  cracker crust would work well too.

The glaze:

2 cups sliced strawberries

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons cornstarch

optional: lemon juice and/or zest

Cook over medium heat until thickened.  It should take about 10 minutes.  Set aside and let cool.

The Cream Cheese filling:

4 ounces cream cheese

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

1/4 sugar

zest of one lemon

juice of one lemon

Put all ingredients into a stand mixer and mix until combined and smooth.

To assemble the pie: 

Spread the cream cheese filling on the baked pie shell.

Hull enough strawberries to cover the bottom of the pie plate.  I stood mine up straight with the points in the air.  Once they are all in place on the cream cheese filling, spoon the cooled glaze on top of the berries.

Put it into the fridge for an hour to set up the glaze.